Parents 'worry over technology use'

Hampshire Chronicle: Research showed a third of children aged seven to 17 check their phone for messages several times an hour Research showed a third of children aged seven to 17 check their phone for messages several times an hour

More than half of parents worry that their children's use of technology affects their interactions with friends and family, according to a survey.

A third of children aged seven to 17 check their phone for messages several times an hour and 64% use their devices in bed, while parents spend an average of three hours a day watching television and 68% use their devices while with their children, according to the Halifax Digital Home Index.

The study found almost a third of seven to eight-year-olds (31%), nearly two-thirds of nine to 11-year-olds (63%) and 88% of 12 to 14-year-olds own a mobile phone.

A third of parents (33%) and their children (36%) use devices at the dinner table and more than a third of children (37%) use technology to communicate with family members while under the same roof.

Well over half of parents (60%) said they worried about their children using devices or gadgets instead of interacting with friends and family.

Despite almost three quarters of parents (73%) allowing children to keep devices in their room, 35% said they did not know how often their children use them and more than half (55%) are concerned that they cannot control their usage.

The poll found that children each own an average of £924 worth of electronic devices.

However, 30% of children claim their parents' use of technology sets a bad example.

Educational psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen said: "Modern technology is part of contemporary life and naturally this is reflected in the way families operate. However, it is becoming clear that a number of children and young people use technology excessively.

"Parents now have to adapt to a different climate of communication and work hard to ensure open and meaningful conversations with their children, who have grown up with instant messaging and social media.

"Virtual communication is never going to substitute face-to-face family contact though, and parents are well placed to encourage sensible and balanced use of online facilities in a way that includes time fully offline and supports family dynamics."

:: Opinium Research surveyed 1,001 UK parents of children aged seven to 17 and 1,001 UK children aged seven to 17 from the same family between January 28 and February 4.

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